Lot 1054
  • 1054

AFFANDI | Market under the Banyan Tree

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 HKD
3,960,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Affandi
  • Market under the Banyan Tree
  • signed and dated 1970
  • oil on canvas
  • 115 by 154cm; 45 1/4  by 60 1/2  in.

Catalogue Note

“Affandi’s expressions had been based on such perceived and revealed representations of the world of the unreal. His expressions show that he believed in magical forces residing in Banyan trees.”1 The banyan tree is regarded as a revered symbol of knowledge, enlightenment and life across many cultures. Particularly, in Indonesia, it is part of the nation’s coat of arms symbolising the unity of this vast archipelago. A country consisting of thousands of islands, cultures, tribes and dialects, Indonesia is metaphorically analogous to the banyan tree, which is a single entity with numerous far-flung roots. The Banyan tree’s roots range from thread-like wisps to column-thick new trunks; they are all part of the process of making connections from one place to the next.

For Affandi, the banyan tree was a physical manifestation of the spiritual world. It became an ongoing subject matter that fascinated him throughout his active years as a painter. It was an emblem of creative power and hope, for he would assemble like-minded individuals under its luxurious bush to initiate dialogue, exchange philosophies, and ultimately, to foster new and lasting relationships. Progressive ideas were shared and impassioned young intellectuals were born underneath this nurturing umbrella of foliage. The banyan tree was deeply important to Affandi as it provided a sanctuary during the times of colonial occupation, world war, nationalist struggle, revolution and nation building.

In Affandi’s composition, the banyan tree serves as a metaphor of supreme protection. It stands as an arresting, grand, and magnificent being pulsating with life and joy. The sheer size of the canopy spans across the canvas, shielding a community of vendors, friends and animals below it. The dense verdure lends shade to the otherwise sweltering atmosphere as the hot, firey sun sits in the sky just next it. Appearing as eternally sturdy, dependable and immensely resilient, the banyan tree attracts village folks who continue with their daily routine under its vigilant, perennial watch.


“When I paint I have to do it non-stop. I just follow my feelings. I cannot stop. I have to go on” says Affandi. In interviews, he identifies himself as an “expressionist artist” as he likes to paint in a wild and unrestrained manner, producing works that begin as an emotive stream of consciousness. Painting directly from paint tubes onto raw canvas, Affandi did not mix his pigments to mimic nature. But rather, his essential concern was to capture the primal energy of the depicted moment, therefore using mostly unmixed colours to represent the primary forces of nature. He prefers to apply pigments straight from their manufactured formats with the aim to present his subject matters in their most raw and honest manner and thus effortlessly undoing any preconceived ideas. His works are therefore humanistic beyond what our eyes could immediately discern; they permeate with a profound quality of poetry for he deliberately diminishes the barrier between the painting and the self by eradicating the need of a paintbrush. Spreading the paints with his fingers, palms and wrists, Affandi demonstrates an explicit emotional resonance and personal dynamism with his chosen subject matters while he probes and resolves via the action of painting. A keen onlooker of the world and a pathfinder of universal truths, his paintings are imbued with symbolic meanings to connote the basic human conditions. “Working from outdoors, he looked for scenes he could endow with personal symbolic meaning(s)—to connote human suffering or express the whirling of natural forces.”2


On the present painting, Affandi aptly captures the dual nature of the banyan tree – as a physical shield for its citizens and an omnipotent and omnibenevolent force. Beyond centuries old, the banyan tree erects as an embodiment of an immortal witness to the ever mutable and erratic daily human existence. It serves as a constant and humbling reminder to the true purpose of life. Moreover, the banyan tree commences its life as an epiphyte that grows on another plant and sprouts from the fissures and crevices of a host tree. Its very frondescence suggests life within life, reincarnating across the ages. Sharing an impassioned affinity with the anti-idealistic wave of artists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh, Affandi also embarked on an artistic journey to transcend the humble and the ordinary of his home country. Affandi left an indelible mark on the modern history of Indonesia, while his unique painting method contributed to the scope of expressionism on the global platform.

1 Jim Supangkat, Affandi: Re-Analyzing Affandi, Bina Lestari Budaya Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia, 2007, p. 69

2 Sardjana Sumichan, Affandi, Vol I, Bina Lestari Budaya Foundation, Jakarta, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2007, p. 39